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Under The Radar – July 31, 2017

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The MLB Trade Deadline took place Monday, and as expected, a flurry of activity unfolded. However, the moves paled in comparison to the past week’s sports media developments. A reminder, if you’d like to have your individual or company’s news shared in this column in the future, please send any important details to us via email at JBarrett@hvy.tcp.mybluehost.me.

Now on to the news we go!

Great news for Mad Dog Sports Radio morning hosts Evan Cohen and Mike Babchik. The Morning Men have been tabbed by the Dan Patrick Show to fill in this Wednesday and Thursday. Cohen and Babchik will air on television on The Audience Network and NBC Sports Network. The only question is how many viewers will have the strength to hold down their breakfast after being visually exposed to a topless Babchik?

Changes are taking place in San Francisco. KNBR has parted ways with 680 evening host and update anchor Ray Woodson and cancelled the local 1050 programs, The Audible and The Ted Ramey Show. Woodson had been with KNBR for the past twenty years. He was recently hosting evenings when local play by play didn’t air on 680’s airwaves. On 1050, midday host Ted Ramey lost his daily talk show, but will continue to be heard on the radio station as the voice of the San Jose Earthquakes. Morning co-host Rudy Ortiz was also let go as part of the changes.

ESPN Radio is making a smart move tapping into their affiliates to feature some of their outstanding talent, while strengthening their relationships with local operators in the process. Case in point, 97.1 The Fan in Columbus weekday host and former Ohio State and NFL Linebacker, Bobby Carpenter, has been summoned by the network to join Dave Rothenberg and Eric Karabell on ESPN Radio’s Fantasy Focus football show. The program debuts when the NFL season begins.

Speaking of fantasy football, Nate Lundy announced on social media that the Fantasy Football Hour program he works on for Altitude Sports has received some great news. The show expects to expand into additional major markets. Lundy says further details will be provided soon.

Kirk Minihane of WEEI in Boston sat down with former program director Jason Wolfe for a fascinating conversation on his Enough About Me podcast. The first part of the interview reflects on Wolfe’s early years at WEEI and a number of key decisions that took place on his watch. The second part of the interview will be released soon. To hear Part 1 click here.

After adding Mike Jurecki last month to strengthen its midday show, 98.7FM Arizona’s Sports Station has made another move to increase their local offerings during evening hours. The radio station has added The Rundown with Luke Lapinski. The show is said to be opinion driven, fast paced, and offer a complete look at the biggest sports stories of the day. Phoenix sports fans can catch the program on non-local play-by-play game nights at 6pm MT.

That isn’t the only news that 98.7FM Arizona’s Sports Station has to share. A special congratulations is in order for Rod Lakin. After contributing in a variety of roles over the span of 11 years, Lakin has been promoted from Executive Producer to Assistant Program Director. In his new role, Lakin will take on additional duties including working closer with the digital content team and being further involved in the brand’s overall growth strategy.

Exciting news for 810 WHB in Kansas City. After 610 Sports announced last week it had been forced to part ways with the University of Kansas, the school wasted no time in announcing a new five-year deal with 610’s top competitor. The Union Broadcasting station will take over as the broadcast partner of the Jayhawks, airing both football and men’s basketball, as well as coaches shows on the radio station. For additional information click here.

Elsewhere on the college circuit, the Nevada Wolf Pack have found their next voice for football and men’s basketball. John Ramey has accepted the position and fills the void left behind by Ryan Radtke who joined Westwood One to call national games.

Staying in Nevada, ESPN Las Vegas 1100/100.9FM have hired a new producer. Chrissy Paradis is on her way to Sin City to contribute to the station’s weekday programs. Paradis previously produced Rob Dibble’s show in Hartford.

After announcing in May that they had reached an agreement to move football and men’s basketball broadcasts to 1280 and 97.5FM The Zone, Utah State and Learfield Communications have revealed that VP of radio operations and weekday sports talk show host Scott Garrard will serve as the school’s new play-by-play announcer for both football and men’s basketball. Former Utah State Offensive Tackle Kevin Whimpey will provide color commentary on football broadcasts. The school says an announcement will be made at a later time regarding the men’s basketball color analyst.

After ten seasons calling Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs baseball, Jon Schaeffer is heading west. The play-by-play announcer shared that he is joining XTRA Sports 1360 in San Diego. Schaeffer will produce the midday program hosted by Mark Willard and Rich Ohrnberger.

Tim Donnelly has received an opportunity to advance his career. The former Delaware quarterback turned Nebraska sports director and host, has agreed to join ESPN Ithaca where he’ll contribute in a variety of ways including as a weekday talk show host. Donnelly is expected to start his new job in a few weeks.

WGR Buffalo Bills beat/sideline reporter Sal Capaccio has created a new podcast titled SalSports…and Stuff. Capaccio says the podcast will feature guests from a number of different backgrounds and he hopes to feature a number of interesting stories for the benefit of the audience.

Congratulations to Danielle McCartan. The high school teacher and sports blogger earned an hour of air time last week to host on WFAN in New York. McCartan hosted the 3a-4a ET hour of the Thursday overnight shift.

95.7 The Game in San Francisco is adding to its bench. The radio station has brought in Jason Page to work part-time shifts.

Brian Custer is in great spirits after securing a new deal with FOX Sports to provide play-by-play this season for college football games. Custer will team with former NFL Linebacker Ben Leber to call a combination of Big 10, Big 12, and Pac-12 games.

The Athletic continues to add talented writers to its numerous local platforms. This week Seth Davis‘ new college basketball platform The Field House added Sam Vecenie. The Athletic CFB brought in Max Olson, and The Athletic Cleveland welcomed Aaron Portzline. The Athletic Chicago though informed Sam Highkin that his contract will not be renewed this September.

Last but not least, Michael Phillips has been named the new sports editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Sports Radio News

Damon Amendolara: The NFL Is Giving Us Quantity, Not Quality

“Amendolara asked on Monday at what cost did the expanded playoffs and extra regular season game this season serve as a success for the league?”

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The NFL’s first “Super Wild Card Weekend” provided for more blowouts than competitive games. The Bengals/Raiders game Saturday afternoon, and the Cowboys/49ers contest came down to the wire and provided the drama playoff football usually delivers. But the rest of the games turned out to be duds according to CBS Sports Radio host Damon Amendolara.

He pointed to the Bucs/Eagles game and the Chiefs/Steelers game during his show on Monday as two of the biggest flops of the weekend.

“They weren’t competitive,” he said. “Those were the two worst games of the weekend.”

You could throw in the Bills/Patriots game in the mix as well.

Amendolara asked on Monday at what cost did the expanded playoffs and extra regular season game this season serve as a success for the league? 

“The same way the NFL went to the 17th game for ‘More football’ and the same way they expanded the playoffs for ‘More playoff football’ was about more not quality,” he said. “Quantity not quality.”

One thinks about the NCAA basketball tournament where usually the opening round games are cake walks for teams seeded 1-4. That first weekend is awesome because there’s so many games on from noon to past midnight. But with the obvious exception of UMBC a few years ago, the top seeds in each region aren’t going to captivate audiences those first couple games because things will get out of hand quickly.

In the NFL’s case, Amendolara said opening up the playoffs to teams that probably shouldn’t have been there made for less entertaining contests at the expense of having an entire weekend of games to watch.

“The football wasn’t better,” he said. “It was just more.”

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Kay Adams Gives Pat McAfee Backhanded Compliment On Interviewing Aaron Rodgers

“There is nothing — literally nothing — that he hasn’t gone over with you.”

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@PatMcAfeeShow on Twitter

Besides ESPN’s “ManningCast” for Monday Night Football, a top candidate for best sports media story of the 2021 NFL season is The Pat McAfee Show.

The former NFL punter’s show on YouTube, SiriusXM, and podcasts has become a cultural sensation for its interviews with Aaron Rodgers that revealed the Green Bay Packers quarterback’s controversial stance on taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

McAfee has been criticized in media circles for letting Rodgers say whatever he wants in extended monologues without ever challenging his assertions or asking follow-up questions in response to a particular opinion. But the wide range of topics and in-depth answers have made McAfee’s Tuesday conversations with Rodgers must-watch video.

However, those interviews haven’t left much for other reporters and on-air personalities to cover when talking to Rodgers. Good Morning Football co-host Kay Adams raised this issue with McAfee during a Monday appearance on the show.

“You’ve ruined interviewing Aaron Rodgers,” said Adams. “Do you know that?”

McAfee understandably disagreed, saying he feels “it’s been good” because they have a conversation rather than question-and-answer, question-and-answer. Adams then explained that she had a seven-to-10-minute interview with Rodgers last week, but had nothing new to ask him because he already covered everything with McAfee.

“There is nothing — literally nothing — that he hasn’t gone over with you,” Adams complained, saying McAfee and his hour-long conversations has made it impossible for networks to interview Rodgers now.

Though Adams appeared to be annoyed, she did praise McAfee for getting Rodgers to reveal a side of himself that he previously kept private, something the public never saw before.

“He’s never been an open book, but you’ve really let us get to know his character,” said Adams, “and who he is as a human, his kindness, his vulnerabiity. It’s transcendental; seriously, it’s awesome.”

Thanks for doing such a good job that it’s difficult for everybody else, Pat McAfee? That seemed to be what Adams meant.

Yet despite that apparent frustration, she surely knows that the people who saw her interview with Rodgers may not watch McAfee’s show. And it’s entirely possible that someone may answer a question differently, depending on who’s asking and the outlet being represented. Of course, it always feels good as an interviewer to ask a question that hasn’t been posed before and get the subject to think about something he or she may not have previously considered.

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Colin Dunlap: ‘No One More Underqualified’ Than Jac Collinsworth

“How did they allow that level of nepotism to happen?”

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NBC Sports Pressbox

NBC had two NFL Wild Card playoff telecasts this past weekend, but the network’s pre- and post-game show did not impress 93.7 The Fan’s Colin Dunlap and Chris Mack. The hosts singled out Football Night in America co-host Jac Collinsworth as a big problem with NBC’s studio coverage.

“There is no one more underqualified or worse at their job than the young Collinsworth, who is stunningly bad on television,” said Dunlap.

What particularly irritates Dunlap is that Collinsworth holds such a high-profile job on Football Night in America, one that so many in the sports broadcasting industry covet.

“It is a premier job, NBC Sunday Night Football in America, he is one of the hosts there, he’s throwing it to Drew Brees, he’s doing all this stuff,” Dunlap added. “And I know he’s part of the jokey element, the non-serious sports guy on there.”

As Dunlap wondered how Jac Collinsworth got his job, Mack asked the question more directly.

“How did they allow that level of nepotism to happen?”

The two then went on to criticize the entire NBC studio crew, saying everyone is miscast in their current roles.

“Tony Dungy should be interviewing people about introspective life things,” said Dunlap. “He should be doing sit-downs. People will open up to Tony Dungy because they trust him, especially football coaches.”

In Dunlap’s view, NBC made a mistake by not hiring reporter Tom Rinaldi to do the features for which he’s known. (Rinaldi left ESPN for Fox Sports at the end of 2020.) Mack added that the network has an opportunity to remake its NFL coverage with sideline reporter Michele Tafoya moving on after this season and play-by-play announcer Al Michaels believed to be headed to Amazon’s Thursday Night Football.

Prospective names that the duo suggested adding to Football Night in America to freshen up up the mix include ESPN’s Robert Griffin III (who Dunlap says “could be the next big star”), NFL Network’s Joe Thomas, and Good Morning Football’s Kyle Brandt.

You can listen to the full segment at the 93.7 The Fan website or the Audacy app.

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